South America Living

Maintaining Finances While Traveling

Many pre-travel travelers save up for a year or more, then hit the road with whatever account balance they managed to accrue. This category of travelers journey for as long as they can make the funds last… returning back home reluctantly only when out of cash and in need of a new job!

Others are a bit luckier, financially solvent from the start, and may have other concerns such as how to manage their money over the Internet when out of the country. They are well off, but not rich enough to afford a money manager.

One option is to open an online bank account to keep your finances in check while you travel. Most banks these days have online banking at your disposal, but when abroad what if you would prefer to not be accessing your account information from public Internet cafes and un-protected WiFi hot spots?

Open a separate account, put in the chunk of cash you think you may need during your travels and then use that account while out of your home country. When you return back home you can easily close the account or just maintain the minimum required balance so it is there waiting and ready for your next adventure.

If you want suggestions on how to send and recieve money abroad, either to yourself or another person, read: Sending and Receiving Money Abroad

Traveling With Cash or Travelers Checks

You could always skip dealing with bank accounts altogether and simply travel with a large amount of cash. Or purchase a group of travelers checks before you head out then rely on those for cash along the way. Both aren’t very good ideas.

Traveling with cash – not to mention having to declare it upon entry into a country and then all kinds of things could result, not the least of which is being targeted for theft – is simply plain dumb.

And wouldn’t be much fun as you would constantly have to worry about getting robbed and then being stuck in an emergency situation in a foreign country where most likely you don’t even speak the local language well.

Travelers checks are a better alternative, but again risky as if they get stolen you are in for a not so fun few days trying to get it all sorted out. As well, many locations simply do not have facilities to cash the checks, or will charge you a fee on top of what you already paid.

A few travelers checks as a backup plan, tucked away securely in your luggage, is a great idea, but for day to day accessing funds and making purchases, simply use the debit card that is attached to your bank account back home, or a credit card.

Use ATMs for your cash, and take out small amounts as needed. It is a pain in the rear as there are daily limits set in many countries above and beyond the daily limit set by your bank (Argentina, for example, used to limit withdrawls to only $100 USD per day), but really the safest way to access funds while traveling. In addition, ATMs give the best exchange rates.

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